Riding shotgun with three vintage Land Rovers
(and a few well-chosen Stetsons) in the backwoods of Vermont
Written by Jayme Moye
Photography by Maaike Bernstrom
Video by Ian Deveau
There are vintage 4x4s—and then there are vintage Land Rovers. The iconic British brand (now owned by the India-based Tata Motors) has been venturing off-road since 1948, and proud owners go to great lengths to keep them operating as long as possible. It’s not uncommon to see a Landy do what a Landy does best—in the jungle, in the desert, or straight through a stream—even after multiple decades of use (and abuse).
“They’re often broken, but almost never broken down”
“I have people call up who have had the same Rover Series vehicle for 40 years. And they’ve been driving it that long as well—which is insane,” says Zack Griswold of Vermont parts purveyor Rovers North. “I think it’s because they have so much personality. They’re quirky, just like people, and they grow on you.”
Griswold would know. He drives a 300Tdi swapped 1993 Land Rover Defender 110 and works for Rovers North, America’s closest thing to a Land Rover dynasty. The Vermont-based, family-owned business has been supplying Land Rover parts and accessories since 1979 and has a unique relationship with Land Rover in that they deal directly with the mother ship in the UK. Everyone else in the U.S. must go through the dealer network.
Rovers aren’t just vehicles—they’re drivers of culture, with an archipelago of clubs, publications (including Rovers Magazine), and events all over the U.S., like the legendary Winter Romp in Maine.
“It’s in February when it’s knee-deep snow, and people are out there off-roading for like four days in anything from mid-30s to negative 20 degrees,” Griswold says.
Aiming for a slightly less…intense experience, we recently followed along with Griswold and a couple of his friends—plus a few backwoods-appropriate Stetsons—on a weekend jaunt through the hills of Vermont.
As you’ll see from the video below, fun was had, mud was kicked up, and, yes, a rear differential was blown on the 1972 Series III. But that’s just part of the fun, Griswold says. A vintage Rover is “often broken, but almost never broken down.” It was a relatively simple fix to removing the shafts, and the rig was able to get home in 2WD under its own power.
Griswold even goes so far as to put a sustainability spin on his vehicle of choice. “The most eco-friendly car you can get is the one you’re already driving,” he says, “because putting a new vehicle on the road is way worse than keeping yours running.”
Regardless of where you come down on that argument, one thing is certain: